1 February 2017
Author: Graham Watts & Ruby Embley

Tue 31 Jan: Orley Quick and the Hairy Heroines/Mater-Filia/Sketch Dance Company

Orley Quick & the Hairy Heroines As We Like It

Mater-Filia Do not Go Gentle

Sketch Dance Company Raised by Wolves

Resolution occasionally throws up a programme of such delicious diversity that time seems to stall as the originality of new work provides an all-absorbing uplift to the bleakest of days. And, this was one such evening: a triumph for all concerned.

The hilarious Hairy Heroines delivered a work full of fresh ideas and fun. Three barefoot young men, directed by a woman (Orley Quick), breeze through an episodic performance that cleverly deconstructs the gender rules inherited from childhood. They are charismatic, courageous and – above all – a trio of dynamic performers capable of delivering explosive rage, expressive spoken text, exotic seduction and laugh-out loud humour within ebullient physical theatre. Cudos to those who designed and made the costumes and for an eclectic soundtrack that worked so well.

A mother and daughter duet about mortality was bound to be swathed in sentiment, all the more so when inspired by the tragedy of a close family member’s demise and with a score composed especially by the deceased woman’s husband. The rage against his father’s death in Dylan Thomas’s eternal poem, read here by Anthony Hopkins, is cleverly patched into Hamilton Lee’s mesmerising score; fusing lyrical romanticism into upbeat techno, interpreted by flowing contemporary movement, punctuated by Debbie Lee-Anthony’s popping, hip hop style. With an hourglass bluntly emphasising the ‘dying of the light’, it could have strayed into mawkishness, but, instead of being suffocated by poignancy, the performance gelled into an uplifting experience.

The evening concluded with a fascinating conceptual narrative about a runaway girl (Jemima Brown), lost in the forest and permanently attached to her backpack. Brown has a strong stage presence and a fluid movement quality. Her duets with Joshua Scott conjured arresting imagery of feral intensity subsumed through human contact. Jasmine Andrews demonstrates a sensitive directorial style and her choreography was often inventive and always expressive, fusing gesture and sweeping movement with a fine sense of theatre.

Graham Watts

Three young men groove towards us like partygoers at a wedding reception; drunk and lost in the sea of the music. Hips swivel and hands flick in sensuous nods to the Argentinian guitar. Subverting masculinity is the game and they play confidently, with endearing self-deprecation. Eliot Minogue-Stone is entertainingly unconvincing, ‘I could kill a chicken…I won’t. But I could.’ Terrell Foreshaw skateboards regally past, proud Man In Dress, his drapery billowing behind him. As We Like It is frequently entertaining but there’s a tendency to overindulge in the audience’s laughter which drags a little. It’s full of moments of innovation and humour but in need of tightening.

Innovation is certainly present in Do Not Go Gentle. Mater-Filia are mother and daughter and there’s an unusual pleasure in searching for hints of genetics in their different physicalities. The two women dart in and out of the light to the sounds of the Dylan Thomas poem. They have a restrained aggressive energy, which hints at hip-hop and Graham. It’s urgent and powerfully feminine, a battle-cry to ‘live boldly’. We do eventually build up an immunity to this intensity; the piece would benefit from more low octane moments, but with a title like Do Not Go Gentle, it follows that there aren’t many. The final moment offers some quiet beauty; mother and daughter walk away hand in hand. It’s refreshing but unfortunately too little too late.

Raised by Wolves does family fairytale-style. Four women and two men eat through the space with gorgeously fluid and absorbing movement to tell the story of a girl (Jemima Brown) fleeing an unhappy home. When Brown finds herself in the forest, a Greek chorus scatter fallen leaves around the stage. Their limbs sweep and kick them into the air like confetti, one of many beautiful choices. The music however, threatens cheesiness and could do with more subtlety and variation. Andrews relies heavily on over-literal song lyrics, but in the context of fairytale adaptation we don’t begrudge her hammering her point home.

Ruby Embley


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